Donor human milk bank ready for expansion, more milk for Wisconsin and Illinois babies
Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes (Milk Bank WGL), is preparing for a significant expansion with the recent purchase of a 15,000 square foot building in the heart of Elk Grove Village, IL. Full renovation of 560 Bonnie Lane is slated to start in November 2023, with completion targeted for fall of 2024.
Milk Bank WGL operates an infant nutrition organization within the nation's largest industrial park, combining food processing with public health through an innovative, multidisciplinary approach.
"This expansion is essential. Demand for donor milk increases 20-30% annually," says Summer Kelly, executive director. "The new building will more than double our space and will include a state-of-the-art lab that will accommodate the processing of thousands of ounces of milk each day."
In addition to the development of a highly efficient research and processing laboratory, the organization will be increasing office space, adding a community gathering room and expanding the existing bereavement milk donation memorial.
Susan Urbanski, program manager, has worked at the milk bank since it opened in 2015.
"In addition to increased utilization within hospitals, the use of donor milk for pediatric patients at home has more than tripled since 2020," she says.
Donor milk provides numerous benefits, including antibodies and growth hormones. For some, like premature infants in neonatal intensive care units, donor milk helps to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis, a dangerous and potentially life-threatening disease.
"As a nonprofit organization, we have the opportunity to adapt our services based on the needs of our communities," says Jinnie Hoggarth, relationship manager. "The milk bank's role in public health is essential. For example, the infant formula shortage in 2022 highlighted how crucial human milk is for many families."
Milk donations are collected from healthy, lactating parents, who are screened and approved as donors. Upon collection, donations are transported to the milk bank's processing facility where they are pasteurized to eliminate viruses and bacteria. The pasteurized milk is tested and distributed to hospitals and outpatients in Illinois and Wisconsin.
"Since I joined the staff in 2016, our team has processed over three million ounces of donor milk," shares Jose Zepeda, plant manager. "We are constantly receiving requests from hospitals and outpatients, and my team works tirelessly to make sure we can always have milk on hand to fulfill these requests."
The milk bank has been leasing space in the village at 1691 Elmhurst Road since its inception in 2015. Families can continue to access milk bank services without interruption between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"We owe so much to our milk donors who provide the gift of milk for families in need." shares board president and co-founder, Marissa Grossenbach. "Because of their generosity, our incredible team is going to keep doing more of what they love, saving tiny lives with donor milk."
You can find out more about accessing or donating human milk via Milk Bank WGL by visiting milkbankwgl.org.